A primary tenant of the Data Science Initiative is Social Good. Students, faculty, and staff alike are engaged in using technology to improve various aspects of community life. In combination with community needs, this has led the DSI team to make social good a priority, formalizing this work as the Partnership for Social Good. The mission of the Partnership for Social Good is to offer the Data Science Initiative’s collective expertise and resources to community stakeholders and in order to help unlock potential solutions to complex social problems. The vision of the Partnership for Social Good is to be a catalyst for positive, long-lasting change in the society, ultimately making it more just and fair.
The Contribution of the Partnership for Social Good
The Partnership for Social Good will begin by building a repository of data related to economic mobility. Additionally, the Partnership will build a toolbox of data acquisition, analytics, reporting, and visualization tools that will allow researchers, community leaders, and companies to:
I. Uncover a set of actionable interventions
II. Evaluate the expected utility of these interventions
III. Understand the level of investment needed to make these interventions successful.
Partner members will engage in a collective decision-making process to determine which projects to support with jointly collected funds. Students from DSI’s Professional Science Master’s Programs will serve as data engineering and analytics resources for the Partnership for Social Good through internships and class projects. Additionally, several analytics and social good related PhD programs at the university will provide a steady pool of analytics and social science researchers. One contributor, UNC Charlotte’s Institute for Social Capital, has been collecting community-related data for the past ten years. Overall, UNC Charlotte has over 50 faculty members working in areas related to economic mobility, ranging from computing, business, and healthcare, to the social sciences and humanities.
The Innovation Lab will be the physical location for the PSG. It will serve as a collaborative hub for engagement of members from industry, government, and academia. The Innovation Lab is a key component of DSI’s strategy for collaboration, visualization, and presentation capabilities of our students/interns, researchers, industry partners, government partners, and participants from the Charlotte entrepreneurial community. Its key elements will be computational and design process environments that enable, support, and encourage creative thinking, innovative solutions, and novel applications.